What Am I Truly Focused On?

Let me begin, by saying this is my third attempt to write this sentence, so my focus has started off poorly.  However, this serves as a good jumping off point for my points.  With all said and done these days, is there any wonder why we can’t seem to stay focused for any longer than it takes to accomplish one task item, and then we begin to wander, either figuratively or a literal walking away from what we’re doing.  At once, I begin to imagine all the aspects of society and their benefits and just how this would have been any different if those responsible for their creation were as unfocused as I am.  Are we getting worse with our focus, than say someone of the early twentieth century? Has technology created a paradigm of mediocrity, due to a general lack of focus, except with what technological means are placed before us?  Perhaps, these are true, but also perhaps like anything we look to the worst representations as a pedagogy regarding our life’s perceptions and trainings.  We may tell ourselves, why do I need to try as hard, if my results are bound for failure.  We teach ourselves, in a manner of speaking, to only go in the direction of the sure thing.  How many times have we heard the phrase, “failure is not an option!”?

Failure is always an option, perhaps not the best option but an option nonetheless.  Failure is needed to become better at what we do, and without failure we have no benchmark for success, or the pitfalls which surround us daily.  As I’m referring to failure, I think it should be clear, failure is what you think failure should be.  For me, failure is my inability to accomplish what I tasked myself to do, or not doing what I know the “right” thing to do is.  Nothing more, but with a critical eye, I consider what I’m doing and have done to get better.  This applies with my relationships, my job, tasks at hand, and my overall person as it relates to my faith.  In fact, my failures as they relate to my faith, are always forefront of my mind, and not as a nature of piety, but as I am a sinner and my failure to recognize this will be my undoing.  So, it is front and center of my mind always.  Don’t you have anything with which you regret, regarding the way you treated another, or where you could have done more to benefit the situation of another?  This is really all I mean.  If our focus is on God, and we want to have a relationship which grows closer each day, then our ability to focus on what matters is paramount to our salvation.

In my normal day, when I wake up, I have just enough time to shower, shave and dress for the day’s work.  I wake my children up for school, and sometimes I have time for breakfast, while the car warms us, and other days I’m rushed from the second I wake up till I arrive at work.  There is very little room for error, and when I have something, unforeseen and time-consuming, I tend to handle this poorly.  I become moody and for lack of a better expression, I’m hard to deal with.  Though, when removed from the stressful situation I think to myself, I could have woken up earlier, or be willing to accept those things which I have no control over.  Almost anything would have been better than the attitude I had when it came to the people of whom I love the most in this world.  So, where was my focus?  Plainly, it was on me!  This is a bitter pill for me to swallow.  I ask myself the question, how can you be so selfish?

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For the longest time, I was focused on myself and what I wanted, but gave myself and the people around me the general delusion, I was just working on myself and I was sorry I didn’t give them more of my attention.  From a duplicity standpoint, they saw right through me, and I’ve permanently lost relationships because of my behavior.  This failure of mine, is painful but telling of a better future where if I can put my selfishness to the side and focus on God, and becoming a reflection of his light for others I have a real chance of allowing another to enrich my life for the better.  Charity should be my number one focus, in everything I attempt to do.  Take for instance, when dealing with my kids, if I am in any way attempting to be charitable, I will listen and be patient with them.  However, I give them goals they can accomplish, but goals, much like myself, intended to challenge them.  No one ever said, “I really respect you, because you made things so easy, I never had to try”, at very best people appreciate not working hard, but can’t truly respect this behavior either.

My daily focus, how do I accomplish this, and how can I be better?  Matthew Kelly, of Dynamic Catholic, always asks his readers, “are you being the best version of yourself?”.  This is such a wonderful point of view to have, although it appears to be a simple platitude at first, it truly isn’t.  Within a couple of minutes of asking yourself this question, I think you will realize the answer is, “no”.  Not that you won’t be the best version of yourself as you sit and read this right now, but as you attain a new understanding, much like a corridor of doors, you open a new door to a new world.  A world where we are woefully deficient in our understandings and general pursuits.

There are some people who choose, as their focus, to open those doors which open to rooms of varying width and sizes, but rooms which can be measured.  When we focus on God, we open the door to worlds of understanding, which can neither be measured or fully comprehended with one look.  This is what my focus on God offers me, a world of love, and one which I am ever learning.  I’m always learning to be more compassionate, more understanding, and one which helps me gain the insight needed to move up the proverbial mountain we must all climb in this life.  I believe, since I’ve opened the door to this world, so-to-speak, I’ve found within myself, by the grace of God, a new desire for all.  I’ve found a certainty of appreciation as it pertains to my surroundings.  My daily focus, should be, and isn’t always because I allow life to step in the way from time-to-time, those people and places which can either influence me or I can influence them.  As a father, my focus is my kids and what is best for them.  I see some fathers who are truly friends to their kids, and on some level, I find this inviable, but on a focus of family, I find this disconcerting.  Now, I don’t ever want to give a sense of judgement over anyone.  I’m no better than anybody, but I’m trying and where I see potential pitfalls, I do my best to avoid whenever possible.  In the case of being a father, and my focus to do better has shown me, my kids don’t need a friend, they have plenty of those.  No, instead, what they need is someone to lead them, and in vein of truth encompassing all children, all kids need parents to lead them in to right choices.  Without our moral teachings, and without our general actions as they pertain to our kids and life, kids are forever left to wander.

Now, I purposely make the point regarding our kids today, a generation which needs our focus and discipline more than anything I can think of.  Of course, they are our future, but they also deserve a future and one which they can take a hold of, regarding actions and perceptions.  Right choices are far more important than successful outcomes (though I will take successful outcomes associated with right choices any day), and teaching our kids the difference should be our legacy.  My wife and I sound like broken records to our kids, regarding what they choose to tell us as things happen in their life.  Though, I want them to be self-reliant, at least to the point where they can enter their thought stream and truly look back at their parent’s teachings to help them answer difficult questions.

As my focus pertains to my wife, my friend, someone whom I love more than myself.  This is just it.  In less than twenty words, I listed my general goal and focus for the woman who shares my covenant with God.  She is my everything, and we determined over two decades ago, we would be devoted to loving one another, and trying (although, I’m a boob and need her to show me better ways of doing things) to create a life of focus on God, our kids, and our now.  This is where I think we got things wrong in the past.  We always focused on our future together, rather than the here and now.  We talked about building the house of our dreams, while we lived in a shack, with no other means of fixing our personal problems at the time, we were willing to delude ourselves into thinking it was our age and lack of knowhow.  In our case, we’ve overcome many things, much like a typical couple, and we are the better for it, but without God’s blessings on us, we would never have had the strength to tackle those issues which were the hardest.  God, doesn’t fix our problems for us, God gives us the strength and courage to stand in opposition to our problems, and the recognition to focus on what’s important.  Our only problem as two married people, young and inexperienced, was we thought we could do it alone.  We were wrong, and so is anyone who carries the same referential point of view.  We need parents who are married and stay married, because they worked their problems out, as a measure of an example in our own lives.  How hard is the focus for a new generation of young people, choosing to get married, when they see over sixty percent of the people around them divorced, or divorced at least once?  Where does this leave them when hard times hit, because they will hit, and will be woefully unpleasant?  This unpleasantness mixed with poorly realized goals, and nothing as a point of reference, spells disaster.  Mixed with an entire generation dealing with this model, there are rough times ahead.  I often tell people, if you want a better society you must do four things.  First, believe in God, there is too much evidence for us to explore which otherwise presumes there isn’t a God.  Two, family is second only to God, we are our family and our family looks to us for guidance.  We are the heads of our families, so act like it and move forward.  Third, education, how can we ever hope to provide for our families or help prepare them without a proper education.  Either in college or in a trade, our families must be educated to work, and educated in life to function properly and be the best they can be.  Fourth, community, we all live in communities.  Within these community’s we possess our material items for one, but more importantly we keep our precious friends and family close.  When we allow people to infringe upon our community (i.e. gangs, drugs, anything of general detriment), we indicate two things, we want someone to answer our problems and we are unwilling to sacrifice for the betterment of anyone.  If you live in a community, it requires your sacrifice of either time and effort, or of will.  This is the foundation for setting up a proper generation, and without this, we will continue to spiral downward into a secular hell which provides nothing past your person wants and needs till those no longer satisfy you.

When we look at our daily focus, are we applying a litmus test, and if so, does this test have an objective point of view?  I am sure most everyone today, has a bevy of items marketed to us which allow us an ability to do anything we want.  There are painting classes with friends, karaoke, dog parks, anything virtually anywhere on our phone, streaming entertainment choices, and shopping.  When was the last time, you heard anyone say, “hey let’s do something meaningful with our lives and put our focus on prayer or helping others!”.  When were you last challenged to do anything whereby you knew the fruition of your focus would not be realized for years or perhaps ever?  I would venture a guess, a very long time ago, when you were a child and were made to focus on what your parents wanted, or absolutely nothing in the recent past.  It’s funny how we as adults’ rebel against something our parents made us do, more over because to the way they made us do it, and less about the general enrichment it provides for our lives.

Overall, I am closer to where I want to be than when I started, but I am nowhere close when I picture myself accomplishing my goals.  We have big issues in our world, which require all of our attention to fix, and I don’t mean politicians who say things which cause the jaw to drop, or lie to our face and we act incredulous, even though we knew they were a liar the whole time.  We carry with us a power to set and change anything we desire.  The hardest part of doing this is, we may never see it pass, but deep down in those quite places of your heart, where only God speaks to you, you know this to be the truth.  You know by your unselfish actions to raise children, be a good spouse, a devoted follower, and someone people can look towards to lead them, this is the path to walk.  It’s very hard, and you will fall constantly at first, but as time moves forward, you’ll see it isn’t any less difficult, but you have set your will to focus on its complexity and your goal is to achieve the glory which will come.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

God is good all the time, and all the time God is good!!!

 

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When Did Everything Get So Bad?

A question I ask myself from time-to-time, and it can be applied to all manners of sins and societal follies.  We have news and sports blasting us with “information” twenty-four hours a day.  Often supposition is made to look like a fact, and how could we have not known about this “fact” (unbelievable look of incredulity upon my face)?  Every day we pile on a new layer of intrigue or perception of no hope for a decent future.  We even have pundits ask the rhetorical, “what will be left for our children?”.  So just another layer of morose, unhappy existence, only to be topped by the next scandal or incendiary event.  Is there no control over any of this?

Simple answer; you have the control.  You choose your poison, and when you do, don’t be angry at someone else.  Ultimately, control has always been in your hands.  The media is only going to show you what you want, they don’t make money otherwise.  Everything is about the money (slightly cynical, I know), and money has two different outcomes, used for the good, used for the greed.  You can choose what it should be used for.  I for one, don’t want anyone telling me how to use my money, and if I choose that charity is the best use for it, then I can know it was my choice to be charitable and not an unseen entity creating a bar of distribution I neither know the beginning or ending to.  The interesting question should be, if everyone choses to charitably give their money to anyone in need, or chooses to give their monies to a more altruistic cause, would our world be in a better place?  Maybe, maybe not, but at least in the end, you made the right moral decision(s).  It’s about sacrifice, look at our nation today, built upon the sacrifices of others; not built upon what we can make people do, or how can I get what I want.

Morality, where did it go?  Is it hiding from us, have we allowed, as a society, others to tell us where our morality should be?  Society can benefit from some simple foundational pillars.  First, I am a man of God, so my first pillar and my strongest pillar is my belief in God (God is in every decision and everything I do).  Everything good comes from this.  James Martin SJ, a prolific writer, priest, speaker, and campaigner for those marginalized in our day, indicates the Jesuit belief, “God is in all things”.  A recognition of this simple yet profound belief causes and arc of understanding which points to truth and love as the central focal points for a productive society.  Not love from a song, or the misperceived love displayed by our decrepit entertainment industry.  I mean the love of self-denial, the love of “no”.  I tell my kids all the time, “I tell you no, because I love you” (of course I get an eye roll, but it doesn’t make it untrue), and I truly mean this.  What I mean by “no”, is simple, “no” to the extra drink, “no” to the acedia, plainly “no” to what I want when what I want might just be the problem.  A little more of this and we might see a night and day difference in our perceptions as a culture.

Education is the next pillar.  Our world is getting ever more complicated and this complication requires a three-fold system of education.  The first is, we must in every fiber of our culture encourage education; Mike Rowe makes an excellent point in referring an antiquated understanding of higher education.  Not everyone is made to be a college graduate, and at the same time not every college graduate is competent to handle the trades (Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs, with tremendous eloquence espouses this theory, even to the extent we have a deficit in good paying jobs in the trades which need to be filled).  We need them all though; we as a culture must encourage every opportunity to advance one’s education as a must.  Our place in this world from every place on the global spectrum is tied to education in one form or another, and this combined with ingenuity to create is what helps us to tackle every opportunity placed in our pathway.  However, competition in a realm of first place, second place, and loser is just simply outdated to one extent.  The subjectivity with which anything can be measured, and those of us who want a simple answer to all things are what create a complete inability to compare ourselves based on a perceived training, but instead the result should be our focus.  Instead of asking, if everyone went to college, shouldn’t we ask if everyone has a job?  There is either a do or don’t do, a desire to be the best at what is tried, and education provides us this, but education can mean anything and should, we should never pigeon hole ourselves into a paradigm which stifles the very nature of who we are.  I don’t care if you can count the best or do math the best, I care that you’re creative and understand what is needed; if you can do those things, we’re always going to be on the cutting edge, but we can’t get there without education.

Family is so important for the perpetuation of the first two pillars, is it any wonder why we have a dwindling faith and education culture in our society these days?  Family is there to lift you up, tell you how wrong you are, and create a sense of worth rooted in the deepest levels.  Without family, you’ve become Edmond Dantes and all you have is your goal and your vengeance to pursue.  Vengeance against society for somehow holding you back, guess what, society doesn’t care if you’re held back.  Society just is, but family does care, they are the ones to open doors for you, and push you into areas where you once thought impossible to attain.  Our culture has celebrated the broken family; we’ve celebrated the “courage” it takes to do everything on one’s own.  I do think this requires courage, but I also must be honest, if people would take more time being selective with whom they introduce into their families, apply a true understanding to faith as a covenant with a familial relationship, and accept family not as a dividend relationship but one of giving we have a real chance to see an applicable change in the paradigm.  We can’t, as a society do much to change past cultural decisions.  However, we can apply this to our future generations, and it begins with family.  A family to teach and educate children in the truth, the faith which brings us closer to God, and gives us a sense of purpose on both accounts.

The last pillar is community, how can we claim to care about the other pillars without a successful community.  The community helps us as a society to move forward with advancements in all realms of the society as they pertain to morals, laws, and general cultural idioms we face from day-to-day.  Community gives us sense of purpose; a purpose to clean up areas of concern within the community, or provide a future for future peoples who inhabit our communities.  Take for instance crime, if crime is an issue in any single community, the first thing to do is not blow it out of proportion, the second thing to do is realize the police are never the final answer.  The police are brave souls who risk everything to help a community attain a level of safety which will provide potential for growth.  Growth is good for anything to become healthy and sustainable.  The police are simply a vital cog in the wheel of the community, and an equally vital cog is the society at large.  It’s up to the citizens of any community to create a safe environment through involvement in community activities, and informing the local law enforcement when these are in jeopardy through illegal means.  How much better would our communities operate if the local police had an inside track, or neighbors looking out for other neighbors?  We see in poorer neighborhoods less trust and greater propensity to violence as a way of life, though a solution by the Office of Policy Development and Research suggest investment in the community is vital to reduction of crime, increase of jobs, and increased social awareness.  The solution of community is giving back, the government’s solution isn’t even one of putting money into, but rather putting an awareness of social progress as the driving factor for any community over any economic gains.  We have the tools to fix our communities, we just must be unselfish enough to work to achieve those goals (https://www.huduser.gov/portal/periodicals/em/summer16/highlight2.html).  When there is a paradigm of “I want what they have” or “they got that benefit because of the way they look”, it pursues a cavernous waste of racism, but also denies the truth of the matter.  Some people got where they are because of luck, and others received what they have because their earlier generations (i.e. grandparents, parents) worked hard to achieve something potentially never realized in their own lifetime’s.  To deny a person their past because you don’t care for your own future, is wrong. When there is a general mistrust of all these pillars we see communities break down and become cancerous lesions dotting our society, bent on the destruction of the society in general if the few in power get their decided piece of the pie.

For me, all four pillars must be embraced for a society to function properly.  If we choose to acknowledge their existence and choose to move in this direction, I think society will have its problems, but on a whole, won’t appear to have the systemic issues it currently does or be as bad off as everyone perceives it to be.  When we can recognize, the news and entertainment are solely pursuing an end and means with money as the main motivator (cynical yes, but not altogether untrue), we can find a middle ground whereby we look for the information which exists and not someone with an unexperienced or extreme opinion about a topic.  The truth is, we listen to people’s opinions about topics where they are neither and expert, nor have much experience in the subject whatsoever.  Just like now, you read my words, but I would be just like everyone else if I expected you to take what I’ve written at face value.  No, I expect you to search deep and find a place of truth for anything which you’ve read today.  It’s the only way you can truly begin to create an expectation for yourself and the others around you.

Finally, my expectation of everyone is something I hold myself to, it’s not acceptable to be anything less than the best representation of yourself always.  Yes, this means, you should make the right decisions for you, not because someone may think less of you, but because it represents truth and you should desire the truth.  I hope and pray, my words help light the fire for a pursuance of God, and a more fruitful existence within a better society, a better you, and a truth which is neither good or bad, but just is.  May God bless you and your family!!!

God is good all the time, and all the time God is good!!!

Faith, Fatherhood, Manhood

As a man of faith, a father of three, and at the very base of everything I am, a man.  My desire for this is to still those thoughts which constantly run through my mind, which deal with those topics and could perhaps help someone, anyone who may have the same questions.  At the very least, dialogue is my utmost concern.  One of the major issues in any discussion or argument these days is the lack of good dialogue between differing opinions or ideologies.  I’m not looking for simple as a imbecile embraces it, but rather looking for simplicity as l am sure it is the best route to life’s most profound answers.

I see things as they are, my wife has always stated I can cut through the mess with profound ease, but this comes at a price, I’m blunt and have an uncanny ability to bruise even the most buoyant personality.  So, in this, I will do my best to create an atmosphere of truth, and candidness.  I’m not one to usually get my feelings hurt, there is always more than one side of any story and perceptions are as numerous as the galaxies.

So, this blog’s intent is to focus on issues of faith, family, and my perceptions as a man.  I don’t believe in ad hominem attacks, I believe in love as our God has given us the choice.  These choices are all I dare to speak about; my choices in life and hopefully I can leave someone with a positive and faithful perspective which helps them in their everyday struggles.

As our relationship grows through dialogue and thought, I hope to answer any questions you may have, and I hope you’re willing to do the same.  May God bless you and your families!  God is good, all the time, and all the time God is good!!!

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Truth2Freedom's Blog

The mindset in postmodernism is that objective truth does not exist. But in post-truth, the person believes that objective truth exists, but they subordinate truth to their preferences, or their comfort. In other words, one doesn’t care that truth exists or what the truth is if it doesn’t line up with one’s preferences. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" - George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. Faith in Jesus Christ is our response to God's elective purpose in our life. These two truths--God's initiative and man's response--co-exist throughout the Bible. The gospel is "the message of truth" because truth is its predominant characteristic. Salvation was conceived by the God of truth (Ps. 31:5); purchased by the Son, who is the truth (John 14:6); and is applied by the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). To know it is to know the truth that sets men free (John 8:32). Believers are people of the truth (John 18:37), who worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and who obey the Word of truth (John 17:17). People have rejected, neglected, redefined, and opposed God’s truth for centuries. Some cynically deny that truth even exists or that it can be known by men (John 18:38). Others foolishly think that denying truth will somehow make it go away. Truth determines the validity of one's belief. Believing a lie doesn't make it true. Conversely, failing to believe the truth doesn't make it a lie. The gospel is true because Jesus is true, not simply because Christians believe in Him. His resurrection proved the truth of His claims and constitutes the objective basis of our faith (Rom. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:3). Truth is our protection and strength (Eph. 6:14). Throughout history, people have tried everything imaginable to gain favor with God. Most turn to religion, but religion apart from Christ is merely a satanic counterfeit of the truth. At the heart of every false religion is the notion that man can come to God by any means he chooses--by meditating, doing good deeds, and so on. But Scripture says, "There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). That name is Jesus Christ, and we come to Him by confessing and repenting of our sin, trusting in His atoning death on the cross, and affirming His bodily resurrection from the grave (cf. Rom. 10:9-10). There is no other way to God. False religious leaders and teachers talk much about God’s love, but not His wrath and holiness; much about how deprived of good things people are, but not about their depravity; much about God’s universal fatherhood toward everyone, but not much about his unique fatherhood toward all who believe in His Son; much about what God wants to give to us, but nothing about the necessity of obedience to Him; much about health and happiness, but nothing about holiness and sacrifice. Their message is full of gaps, the greatest of which leaves out a biblical worldview of the saving gospel and replaces it with the worldview of postmodernism with its dominant ethical system of relativism. The Bible describes mankind in the end times: “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). Spiritual answers cannot be deduced by human reason alone (1 Cor. 2:14). It’s not that spiritual truth is irrational or illogical, but that human wisdom is defective, because it’s tainted by man’s sinfulness, and unable to perceive the things of God. That is why the Bible is so important. It gives us the answers we can’t find on our own. It is God’s Word to mankind. Scripture is divinely revealed truth that fills the vacuum of spiritual ignorance in all of us. Post-truth is the word of the year for 2016 and also the philosophy of the day, According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. In a “post-truth” world, people make choices based on emotion and experience rather than objective fact. So in a post-truth world, truth is irrelevant. What exactly is a post-truth culture? It’s a culture where truth is no longer an objective reality. It has become subjective. It’s what’s true for me—my beliefs, my opinions, determine my truth. So in our post-truth culture, man determines truth. Man makes himself the ultimate authority. This starting point, which rejects God’s Word and the idea of moral absolutes, makes truth subjective. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Christianity is grounded in objective truth. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Objective truth exists because we have God’s Word. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Thy word is truth” (John 17:17), and Paul and James describe the Bible as “the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:18). The Psalmist says, “The entirety of your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160). Jesus Himself said, “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). When Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6), He wasn’t expressing His personal belief or opinion. He was speaking the truth, a fundamental reality that doesn’t change from person to person. It doesn’t matter if our culture thinks all roads lead to God. The truth of the matter is “no one comes to the Father but by [Jesus].” This blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." - George Orwell

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